The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian were brothers by birth, born at Rome, and physicians by profession. They accepted a martyr’s death at Rome under the emperor Carinus (283-284). They were brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By their good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with their exceptional kindliness, the brothers converted many to Christ. The saints usually said to the sick: “It is not by our power that we treat the sick, but by the power of Christ, the True God. Believe in Him and be healed.” For their unselfish doctoring of the infirm, the holy brothers were called “unmercenary physicians.”
Their active service towards neighbour and spiritual influence on the surroundings, leading many into the Church, attracted the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, Christians implored Saints Cosmas and Damian to hide themselves away for a while until they could render them help. But the soldiers, not finding the brothers, arrested instead other Christians of the settlement where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and delivered themselves over into the hands of the soldiers, asking them to set free those arrested because of them.
At Rome, the saints were at first locked up in prison, and then were taken for trial. The saints openly confessed before the Roman emperor and the judge their faith in Christ God, having come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said: “We have caused evil for no one, we have not involved ourselves with the magic or sorcery, of which you accuse us. We doctor the infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we do not take any sort of recompense for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Mt. 10:8)
The emperor however continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too in his own experience might know the almightiness of the Lord, not forgiving blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The people, beholding the miracle, cried out: “Great is the Christian God and no other is God, except Him!” Many of those that believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the True God Christ the Saviour. The saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas and Damian were with honour set free and again they set about doctoring the sick.
But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was done by black envy, one of the strongest passions of the sinful nature of man. An older physician – an instructor, under whom in their time the holy brothers had studied the medical craft – became jealous of their fame. Driven to madness by this malice, and all overcome by passion, he summoned the holy brothers, formerly his most beloved students, that they should all get together for a gathering of various medicinal herbs, and setting far off into the mountains, he murdered them, throwing their bodies into a river.
Thus as martyrs ended the earthly journey of these holy brothers – the Unmercenary Healers Cosmas and Damian. They had devoted all their life to a Christian service to neighbour, having escaped the Roman sword and prison, but treacherously murdered by a teacher.
The Lord glorified His God-pleasing ones. And now through the prayers of the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian is received healing from God for all, who with faith recourse to their saintly intercession.